Team Parent (TP), Team Mom, Team Manager, Team Administrator or feel free to use my nickname for my parent – Mr. or Mrs. Fix It! These are some of the titles used for the person who’ll assist the coach greatly throughout the course season and be an important conduit between you and the parent group.
This article is written from a longtime coach, who’s had the best TP’s around (alright, I’m a little biased). It’s for either a brand new TP who wants to know more about the role and how to do it right, or for an existing TP who wants to see if there is more they can do to make the teams life easier.
Is Being a Team Parent Right For You?
Coordinate, facilitate, communicate and delegate. For some people, those words do not form part of their genetic makeup and will scared at this point to read further. However, stick with me, as albeit some of those characteristics may not be your strongest attributes, what you provide in energy and enthusiasm for the TP position can make up for it.
In saying this, strong organizational skills are preferred here to avoid those headaches for you, parents and coaches. Be sure to document information where appropriate and have somewhere, an app or folder, that stores all of this information that you can refer back to.
The TP must have a constant positive outlook when around the team. You’ll most likely have a child in the team and will be challenged by parents to get involved with team politics. Don’t do it! Treat everyone with the same level or respect and raise any potential concerns to the coach as soon as possible. It’s not your role to internalize information and stop it being resolved collectively.
This isn’t a second full-time job, so be good at delegating and receiving buy-in from other parents. Yes, it is your role to do the administrative tasks for the team which will allow the coach to coach, but the coach doesn’t expect you to do it all. Set expectations that all parents will need to contribute at some point and you’ll be letting them know when it’s their time to shine!
Lastly, be supportive of the team dynamic and culture set by the coach. That’s predominantly when liaising with parents, but there might be times when you need to with players also. You’re a good sounding board when that player might have just been given some constructive criticism by the coach and not liked it too much. You’ve been selected in the inner sanctum for a reason, so coach will enjoy having you around to help out at any opportunity on game day or at practice.
- Communication Channel
You are in the middle, right between the coach and parents. You need to relay any message required from the coach to the wider group within your team. So here are two things you should confirm very early in the piece to avoid conflict;
- How are you going to communicate?
- How regularly will you communicate?
Email, text message, paper handouts, social media, team app. There are communication channels everywhere and everyone will have a preference on how they like their information. Establish what works best for you and have the rest of the team follow. It’s not productive to send out the same message through 5 different sources.
- Generate Team Roster
It’ll be your job to organize the detail associated with the team roster. Important information that you should have on you at all times and also share some of it with the other parents;
- Player details (names, birth dates, address information, contact details). Ask parents what information they are ok to share before providing it to the wider group.
- Medical information (allergies, medication being taken)
- Uniform numbers and sizing
- Coaching staff details (again, check with the coaches before sharing address information or phone numbers – nobody likes a parent texting a coach after each and every game).
- Collect Birth Certificates
TP’s need to collect these from the parents to validate a players age when competing in competitions. As these are official documents, we don’t recommend you carry them with you in a folder, rather storing them online in a secure location. There are a number of websites or apps that can help with this.
- Organize the Team Parent or Coaches Meeting
This plays in important part in setting the foundations for the upcoming season. Team Parent or Coaches Meeting is typically a combined effort between the coach and TP, where you’ll hand out relevant information, set ground rules, what’s required from parents throughout the season, how you want to be contacted and where you’ll communicate, tournaments you might play, etc.
Be sure to spend some time preparing the structure of the meeting with coach before you go into it and discuss any issues that you think could be raised by the parent group. You want to look like a unified team with no chinks in your armor – this will make more sense as we detail some other roles later on in the article.
- Organize Team Insurance
You may need to organize insurance for the team to participate in practice, games and tournaments. Check with your club first, as this may already be included within your registration fees. If you are a standalone travel team, you may need to organize this yourselves.
- Notification of Schedule Adjustments
This might be a role coach prefers to complete, however, I’d always delegate it to the TP. Practice is rained out, the field is unavailable at 4.30pm so we now start at 5.30pm, the match venue has moved to a new location, etc.
These logistical adjustments all impact the parents and their own schedules, so the earlier you get this information out to them, the better. Just be prepared for the questions and don’t be afraid to tell them you are just the messenger. You don’t control when mother nature decides to release her energy!
- Organize Fundraising
You’d be surprised with the volume of businesses who enjoy giving back to local sporting teams in the community. You’ll be tasked with organizing fundraising opportunities and obtaining sponsors. This helps with keeping costs down throughout the course of the season.
Don’t do this on your own and delegate this task to all parents – more hands make light work here.
If you do obtain a sponsor, they need to know they’ve received a return on their contribution. Liaise with them regarding collateral you can share at team practice and games or take photos of players in uniform with their logo on the back.
- Team Accountant
You’ll most likely be charged with collecting money from parents, reconciling them and providing updates throughout the course of the season.
This is an area that can potentially cause angst if you’re not thorough with reporting, so if finances aren’t your strength, could you potentially get another parent involved to assist with this process?
The important thing here is to have a paper trail. Can you take payments online rather than cash? If you do take cash, be sure to provide them with a receipt from the teams receipt book.
- Organize Refreshments
It’s always good to provide the kids with a pick me up throughout the game. Back when I was playing, oranges were the source of fuel. Nowadays, the kids aren’t into the fruit so much, though my teams still have healthy options anyhow. The sugar hit can only last so long!
You’ll most likely need to organize refreshments and food for games. You shouldn’t be bringing the food yourself though, rather generate a roster for the parents to be involved. This could be for in-game or an after game snack schedule.
Food allergies are important here and if delegating to the parents, be sure everyone is aware of any athlete who may be allergic to certain foods.
- Team Duty Roster
You may be responsible for the setup of matches and tearing everything down post the event. Again, be ready to delegate here with a roster. Everyone needs to help out and do what’s required to ensure the kids have the best experience possible… Teamwork makes the dream work here!
- Organize Team Activities
Coach may decide that the team is better served by completing a team bonding activity, rather than practice. Or they’ve decided that an end of season party would be a great way to celebrate the teams success.
TP, event planning will become part of your resume here too. Remember, these are just kids wanting to hang out with their friends, so nothing too elaborate is required.
Depending on the age of the children, I’d highly recommend an escape room for an activity. They are indoors, great to showcase teamwork, super fun and only run for 60 minutes. Keeps both the parents and children happy!
- Team Banner & Merchandise
If you are apart of an existing club, then this might already be available to you. However, if you are a new team, then nothing promotes more togetherness than a team banner and merchandise.
There are plenty of websites where you can have banners made or t-shirts and sweats produced, with your own team logo and colors, for minimal expense. Do some research and I’m sure you’ll find someone in your local area who can assist.
- Organize Picture Day
Not a must for every team, so speak with the parents first about wanting to do this. It’s great a memento of the season and you can also use the photographs for promotional purposes.
There might be a sports photographer recommended by the club to use. Or look online, as a number of photographers will now special in team sports photos and know just the right positions and angles to make your team look great.
- Travel Agent
Organize team accommodation for tournaments or when on the road. Hotels will typically offer discounts for sporting teams with group bookings. Try and find something close to the playing location, as this will avoid comments from coaches and parents.
- Medical Kit Holder
You’ll need to have a medical kit and supplies with you, just in case any injuries occur at practice or games. Document any allergies kids may have to specific adhesives or medications within the kit.
- Police Sideline Behaviour
You’ll need to keep on top of this at both practice and games. The helicopter parent is all too common nowadays and they can have a negative impact on the team environment left unmonitored. Promote parents being supportive and keeping the best interests of the overall team as a priority. If any potential issues arise, raise them with the head coach as early as possible.
- Lastly…Organize A Coaches Gift
I had to throw this in there, as we need to look after our own interests sometimes right? Coaches and assistants are most likely volunteering their own time to help the kids have fun and improve in their given sport.
Typically, the parents are happy to throw in a few dollars to buy something as a thank you. From a coaches standpoint, the best gifts I ever received were those I could use within the sport and remember the team with – an example could be a customized coaches board.
Traditionally, TP’s have needed to carry a giant folder with overflowing paper to and from games and practices to keep the athletes, coaches and parents organized. However, technology has grown significantly as a means of alleviating some of this manual administration burden. Don’t be afraid to use it!
There are a number of tools out there, built specifically for youth sport, that remove TP’s needing to carry a giant folder with overflowing paper. My teams are great users of Team App – a FREE, customized communications app that allows you to communicate, generate schedules, store important team information and upload documents. We recommend you check them out here and create your own app before you start your new position.
Summary: What Does A Team Parent Do? 17 Ways To Stop A Coaches Headache
TP’s are absolute gems as far as I’m concerned! They help for free (or a small gift at seasons end), complete the not so glamorous jobs, give up hours of their spare time and do it to allow you to spend more time helping the kids have fun and become better players.
We thank all TP’s out there for doing what they do and we want them to know they are such an important part of a teams culture and overall positive youth sporting experience.
Is there anything we’ve missed that could help out a TP for the upcoming season?